Firmware update for Surface 3, Surface Pro 3 causes blue screens, lockups, other problems

The litany of complaints doesn't bode well for the yet-to-be-issued Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book fixes

Last Friday Microsoft released firmware updates and at least one driver update (Intel HD Graphics) for the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. The weekend proved interesting for many Surface 3 owners, who reported a host of problems, and the widely anticipated firmware patch for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book still hasn't materialized.

Microsoft claims the System Firmware Update -- 1/19/2016 provides a slew of fixes and improvements. The Surface Pro 3 update history lists improvements to startup reliability, pen support in UEFI, the fingerprint sensor driver, Wireless and Bluetooth drivers, graphics and audio drivers, and an updated battery driver. The analogous Surface 3 update history also includes Type Cover improvements and a wide array of pen fixes.

However, complaints started pouring in shortly after the firmware update hit the ether. The longest diatribes come from Microsoft's own Answers Forum, under the heading Issues after updated Surface Pro 3 firmware 19/01/2016. Here's a short list of the reported problems, lightly edited to remove the largely NSFW anti-Microsoft vituperations.

User Newbility Edu reports:

1. Reboot into a black screen: After hitting the reboot button the machine shuts down but do not come back. I have to long press power button for 30 seconds and use "power + vol-" buttons to turn the device back on. Pressing the shut down button will also cause the same. A single click on the power button just won't boot up the device normal (interestingly it will boot up if I press the power button and leave it for 5 minutes).

2. Wake up from sleep randomly: After I press the power button and put the device into sleep, it wakes up automatically (and randomly) and stay in lock screen. (Wifi on, Bluetooth off, All accessories detached)

3. Surface App mapping not working: the app does not control the device.

4. Occasional BSOD ends in "DRIVER_POWER_STATE_failure"

5. Not all drivers are up-to-date as described in the SP3 update history page.

YKinase writes:

Came back from work last night to a hot bag full Surface Pro 3 and 20% battery drain from full charge. 

Windows Hello fails on Type Cover 4 fingerprint reader and locked me out.  Received a message saying to plug device in for a couple of hours and try again.  Full charge.  Volume up + Power forced restart.  Have not yet restarted normally.

Immediately after installing the firmware/intel display drivers, my Start button (software/on-screen) stopped responding.  In fact, the entire task bar was unresponsive.  I did open up the Surface App to look for the surface pen settings, which were not there before.  They didn't show up but upon closing the app, the system froze.

Poster analyst153 says:

Random reboots on my surface when not in use: 3 reboots last night when surface in sleep mode; reboot this morning upon inserting power cord when it was in sleep mode; reboot just a few mins ago while in sleep mode. Cannot reboot from start menu, stuck on black screen. Touch screen issues.

And delanz reports:

Lost the ability to log in with pin numbers since the first reboot installing update.

There's also a long list of complaints on Reddit in the Tech Support - 2016-01-19 firmware update thread, where Caliquake writes:

I just noticed that my touch screen is not working -- it does not register my touch, although the windows button still does.

Poster isabelisima reports:

My type cover for surface pro 4 doesn't work anymore since the last update and I had tried everything i found on internet.

Thotaz asks:

Has anyone else experienced an insanely high connected standby battery usage? I lost 48% in a 25 hour period. SP3 I3 with type cover 4 and Windows 8.1. The annoying thing is that I replaced my old type cover at the same time as the update so I'm not sure if it's the update or the type cover that is at fault here.

And MicrosoftPIs says:

Doesn't shut down properly. The screen turns dark as if it's turned off, but pushing the windows button triggers a haptic feedback, indicating the Surface is still powered on and responsive. Takes about 6 minutes to restart. After shutting itself down, it hangs on a black screen for around 5 minutes before the Surface logo appears again. Randomly restarts after being asleep for ~5 minutes… it made me lose all my unsaved work when I walking away from my Surface for a few minutes. This occurs even when I close the type cover to put the device to sleep. I had it in my bag and didn't realize it was restarting every 5 minutes, draining tons of battery in the process.

Most of the people reporting these problems who identified their OSes were running Windows 10, version 1511, build 10586.63.

The Reddit thread also had a post from MrSaladDodger, who experienced problems with Windows 8.1:

I was getting a huge battery drain on a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8.1 after the 19/01/2016 update. Rolled back driver "Surface Pro Embedded Controller Firmware" Under "Firmware" in device manager and that has fixed my battery drain issue. powercfg /sleepstudy pre rollback showed 100% activity on Network Controller, HD Graphics, DAM Phase and Disk Drive. Post rollback of the driver shows network controller at 4%, and the others either 1% or 0%.

That's a partial list. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of similar threads on multiple sites.

Microsoft employee Jerry posted a partial fix on the Answers forum:

If you are having issues related to the DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILURE BSOD, having issues with Surface restarting on its own, or long boot/wake from sleep times, please check the version of the Surface Pen Settings driver that you have.  The current version of Surface Pen Settings for Surface Pro 3 should be version dated 3/30/2015.

If you have version 10.0.302.0 dated 10/22/2015 then please let us know how you got that version of the driver.  It was released for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, but not for Surface Pro 3.  If you have the 10.0.302.0 then please roll back the driver to to resolve the issue as many on this thread have. To rollback the driver use the following steps:

1)  Right click the Windows Start Menu icon and click Device Manager (or press Windows key + X)

2)  Click the arrow next to Human Interface Devices to expand that node.

3)  Double-click on Surface Pen Settings.

4)  Click on the Driver tab to view the version information.

5)  If the version of the driver is 10.0.302.0, please click Roll Back Driver and follow the steps to roll the driver back to

6)  Restart (not shutdown) Surface.

Of course, Jerry recommends that you restart -- and not shut down -- the Surface, because if you shut down you would expect Windows 10's wondrous forced updating to kick in on reboot, and reinstall the bad driver.

In my experiments early Monday morning with a Surface Pro 3 running Insider build 11102, however, I was quite surprised to discover that the rolled back driver -- -- was not replaced on restart. Checking with a clean upgrade to 11102, I was also surprised to see that the firmware update is not being offered.

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for Microsoft to reissue this botched firmware patch (Surface Pro 3 firmware has already been updated 20 times). It also makes me wonder how long it will take for the anticipated, and sorely needed, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book patches to appear.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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